Impressionism: Répondez S’il Vous Plaît

The Impressionists were friends with many creative people in Paris in the 1800s, including writers. Charles Baudelaire was one of the most famous writers of all, and Impressionist paintings and works on paper inspired many of his writings.

Here is an excerpt of his writing about Boudin’s seascapes:

In the end, all these clouds, with their fantastic and luminous forms; these ferments of gloom; these immensities of green and pink, suspended and added one upon another; these gaping furnaces; these firmaments of black or purple satin, crumpled, rolled, or torn; these horizons in mourning, or streaming with molten metal… (Impressionism: Pastels, Watercolors, Drawings, p. 26)

Baudelaire is so inspired by Boudin’s skies that the colors become “satin,” they begin to have emotions (“in mourning”), and they even take on different forms entirely in his imagination (“molten metal”).

Have students choose a work of art in the exhibition to use as inspiration for their own short nonfiction, descriptive writing piece. Encourage them to use their most flourishing vocabulary, like Baudelaire—over the top is the way to go. This piece might be the start of another assignment—a story or essay, depending on your curriculum.